Indie gaming has come a long way this generation. Thanks to services like PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, indie games have been given a spotlight unlike any they’ve ever had before. For next-gen, there are plenty of other indie games on the horizon, and Sony has been particularly aggressive in their push for indie gaming.
Both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 allow for self-publishing by indie developers. This cuts out a serious middle man and makes indie gaming more lucrative than was ever possible with past console business models.
There are a ton of indie games releasing for next-gen systems that are very exciting, but these 10 are particularly so.
10. Super Time Force (Xbox One)
While technically cross-generational, Super Time Force is also getting a release on Xbox One. From developers Capybara Games, who have a nice working relationship with Microsoft nowadays, and probably because of their work on this game as an XBLA exclusive.
Technically a cross-gen game, Super Time Force is releasing on Xbox 360 as well as Xbox One. The game is a classic bullet hell title with a quirky time traveling twist. Super Time Force will be available by the end of 2013.
09. Galak-Z: The Dimensional (PlayStation 4)
Sony has had a huge indie push, getting console exclusivity, timed or otherwise, for a slew of indie games. This includes Galak-Z: The Dimensional, the next game from 17-BIT, the studio behind the critically acclaimed Skulls of the Shogun.
Galak-Z: The Dimensional blends traditional side-scrolling space warfare with free-roaming elements. Blowing up enemies and exploring a vast 2D universe sounds like a lot of fun, and hopefully PS4 can do this game, a love letter to classic Japanese sci-fi anime, justice.
08. Resogun (PlayStation 4)
Those with PlayStation Plus will be happy to hear that Resogun will be free for PlayStation 4 owners at launch. The game is a spiritual successor to the Super Stardust twin-stick shooters that that were very popular on the PlayStation 3. Resogun may be a niche title in a niche genre, but the game is definitely going to have plenty of eyes on it considering it will be free for PS Plus users right out of the gate on November 15th.
07. Below (Xbox One)
Revealed at E3 2013 as basically the Xbox One’s only indie game, Below is from Capybara, the guys also working on Super Time Force for Microsoft. Below is a very different beast than Super Time Force, however, with the game focused on dungeon crawling and rogue-like elements.
Below features randomly generated environments and instant-death mechanics. The game will also use online elements, with players having an effect on the world of another player’s. Below doesn’t have a release date quite yet, but for now it is a solid indie title that is exclusive to Xbox One.
06. Mercenary Kings (PlayStation 4)
The creators of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game are highly acclaimed in the industry, and now they are tackling next-gen with Mercenary Kings, a game they created that was fully funded through Kickstarter.
Whereas Scott Pilgrim was a homage to classic beat ‘em ups, Mercenary Kings is a side-scrolling shooter in the vein of Contra or Metal Slug. What helps Mercenary Kings stand out is the customization options available as well as the support for four-player local and online co-op. Mercenary Kings has already been playable through Steam Early Access, but it will be available globally on both PC and PS4 either in late 2013 or early 2014.
05. Outlast (PlayStation 4)
Already available on PC, Outlast is a major player in the next-gen indie scene. An extremely popular horror game, Outlast looks to provide one of the scariest experiences in gaming history. It takes place in an asylum and the entire game is played from a first-person perspective, with the main character using a camera with night vision enabled in order to see around the environment.
In Outlast, players are extremely vulnerable, as there is no way to fight back against enemies. The monstrosities and crazed inmates of the asylum will hunt the player down, and all they can do is run and ride through the terrifying dark halls.
Outlast isn’t releasing for PS4 until the first quarter of 2014, but Sony has said that it will be a part of their Instant Game Collection program for PlayStation Plus subscribers.
04. RIME (PlayStation 4)
Gamescom this year wasn’t as exciting as last year because this year was pretty much just dealing with the fallout of E3. All the big stuff was already announced and revealed, and most people are just anxious for the next-generation platforms to launch already. However, one game stood out to me at Gamescom 2013, and that game was the PS4 indie title RIME.
The game is gorgeous, featuring cartoon-like visuals and lush, colorful environments. The game is one of the few next-gen indie games that takes an obvious advantage of the beefed up hardware, which is always appreciated. The lighting and particle effects at display in the trailer (which you can see right below this paragraph) are breathtaking. One thing’s for sure, RIME is definitely a game to watch when it releases later this year.
03. The Witness (PlayStation 4)
I’ve already written at length about Jonathon Blow’s next game, The Witness, but here I am talking about it again. The acclaimed developer behind the groundbreaking Braid is finally creating another title, and this time it is the highly inventive and exciting game The Witness. It takes first-person puzzle solving to a whole new level, and it is a key part of Sony’s next-gen indie game strategy, as The Witness is console exclusive to the PlayStation 4 platform.
The Witness won’t be available until early 2014, but the game already looks incredible. The art style and graphics are second to none, and I can’t wait to see the beautiful game running on an HDTV and powered by Sony’s PS4.
02. Transistor (PlayStation 4)
Bastion was a huge XBLA exclusive when it first launched. The game was praised for its visuals, art style, charm, and addicting gameplay. Now the developers behind Bastion are throwing their hat in the Sony ring, opting to release their next game as a PS4 console exclusive title.
Transistor borrows plenty of elements from Bastion, including the art style and isometric view, but Transistor looks like a hugely improved and wildly more exciting version of it. It combines real-time action with pause and play combat similar to the Mass Effect series. Transistor is going to make waves in 2014, and if you want to play it on console, then PS4 is the only choice.
01. Octodad: Dadliest Catch (PlayStation 4)
Look at this and tell me this doesn’t sell you on a PS4:
That right there is just straight-up amazing. Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a hilariously hard to control indie title that uses an amusing premise, a cute art style, and plenty of slapstick humor to great effect. I’m just sad that we have to wait until 2014 to play it, because this game looks like an absolute riot.
At E3, Octodad: Dadliest Catch received cheers from the audience, and for good reason. The game is basically the epitome of what makes indie games special and helps them stand apart from the big budget releases. Octodad is a premise that would’ve never made it off the cutting room floor at any of the big publishers, and its gameplay mechanics are based almost entirely on the game being hard to control. That’s where the fun lies though, and PS4 owners have a very unique adventure to look forward to in 2014.
* * *
What next-gen indie games are you looking forward to? Sound off in the comments below!